How an “A” Channel Partner Turned in a “C” Scorecard

July 26, 2012 at 7:00 AM

We see it in Sales Organizations and Golf Tournaments. An unexpected event occurs, whether it’s a lost blockbuster deal that was at 95% forecast, or an errant drive into the woods.  Suddenly the goal - making the number or a major victory - is threatened.  Panic sets in. Process and cadence are thrown out the window, and a fiasco unfolds before our eyes. 

Channel Partner A to C resized 600

When you find your performance disrupted, go back to the fundamentals.  Download a proven way for the Salesforce to maintain process despite setbacks:  The Opportunity Assessment.

Consider the case of “Cloud Systems Installation”*.  CSI was the crown jewel in a Vendor’s channel partner program, and had consistently hit the top tier revenue mark to receive the biggest discount and bonus compensation for the sales team.  Then, three quarters ago, a mega-deal guaranteed to close fell through. It crushed management's hopes of hitting the quarterly number.  However, instead of accepting the set-back, the team readjusted priorities and pushed to make the number.  The results: they missed that quarter’s quota, then followed it with their worst quarter in 3 years.  Why?

Sales Reps Pushed Customers Through the Sales Cycle

In order to compensate for the lost sale, Sales Reps tried to accelerate customers in the pipeline.  Among their infractions:

  • Accepting only expressed needs, not finding the root causes of customers' problems
  • Pushing for demos without full discovery
  •  Emailing quotes for systems without a conversation tying price back to value

By accelerating their “Sales Cycle”, they fell out of alignment with their prospects' buying habits.  Nobody likes to be pushed when considering a major purchase.

Deals Close to the Deadline Were Pushed Through with Steep Discounts

In order to win before the quarter ended, management promoted “discounts with a deadline” to ensure deals would close.  The immediate result: healthy revenue for that quarter, but low margins.  Post-Quarter Results: Prospects who demanded the same concessions.  In the channel management business, margin is one metric you cannot lose sight of.

Sales Rep Focused on Late-Stage Sales and Ignored Early Stage Opportunities and Prospects

Since the short-term goal of the sales organization was to save the quarter, reps focused almost entirely near term deals.  Filling the pipeline for the next quarter was an afterthought.  This all hands on deck approach inevitably lead to a huge imbalance at the end of the quarter, with nothing in pipeline.

Whether you are on the golf course or in the middle of a sales campaign, remember that on-the-fly changes seldom achieve desired results. Attempting to accelerate the sales process without aligning yourself to the buyer will result in a lower close rate.  Quarter End discounts create a short term buzz with a nasty hangover, and ignoring early stage deals results in a deflated pipeline.  Don’t readjust your entire cadence because of one bad event.  Stick to the process.

Make sure channel partners are using an Opportunity Assessment to stay aligned throughout the buyer’s process.  If they need any assistance with an opportunity, demand a completed form, and press them on their answers.  It will help give you a better idea of the opportunity’s strength, and also give the partner a game plan for the next sales call.  One unifying trait of top tier Channel Partners is their focus on cadence with the buyer’s buying process.

Make sure that your sales force stays in sync with the buyer and doesn't get derailed by one-time events.  Register to get access to the Opportunity Assessment Job Aid.

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Topics: Channel Management Strategy, Channel Management, Channel Partner

Posted by Drew Zarges

Drew Zarges
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